Addition & Multiplication Don’t Mix

This is Day 29 of 31 Days of Math Learning Success. Follow all the days here and check out others that are writing for 31 days here.

Just as oil and water don't mix, addition and multiplication don't mix. Unless you shake really hard!Oil and water don’t mix.

You likely have heard (or been told) that multiplication is repeated addition. (Although there are some camps that are vehemently against this comparison.)

So you’d think that multiplication and addition would play nicely together.

But they don’t.

Two worlds

Addition World and Multiplication World are two separate planets.

In Addition World, there’s one superhero named Zero. She keeps things level.

The Additionians are numbers. They interact only with addition and subtraction. So when they get together or separate it’s with addition/subtraction.

Some of the Additionians have soul mates. Like dolphins, and 50% of humans, they mate for life.

When they get together with their soul mates, they accomplish great things – together they’re as good as superhero Zero.

Multiplication World

Jaunting over to the other planet we see a different superhero. His name is One. And he’s just as cool as Zero, but in a different way.

All the Multiplicatites (also numbers) get together with multiplication. And if they want to separate, well… you guessed it… they do it with division.

Many of the Multiplicatites have should mates too. And just as the Additionians, a number with his mate is as good as the superhero on their planet – One.

The Route Between the Worlds

But we humans do see addition and multiplication together in expressions, right? So what’s up? Certainly they can interact.

Well, there is a route between the worlds. It’s called the Distributive Detour.

It allows Multiplicatites to interact with the Additionians. And it works like this:

8 \cdot 36 = 8 \cdot (30 + 6) = (8\cdot 30) + (8 \cdot 6)

The humans, that’s us, say that multiplication distributes over addition. And we call it the distributive property.

The moral of the story

So this is all cute, but how does it help you be a better math student?

Keep them separated!

Don’t let addition or subtraction get in multiplication or division’s business. And don’t let the other way happen, either.

Only allow that through the proper route – the Distribution Detour!


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